Dear Parents and Carers

 

Like many of you, my family and I were glued to the television last night watching the Prime Minister’s Press Conference. It reminded me of the iconic images of our grandparents and great grandparent’s generation, huddled around radios listening to war time announcements. This provides a salient reminder that although our lives are being significantly curtailed for the good of our nation, good times will return, particularly if we play our part and make the appropriate sacrifices asked of us. In this vein I implore all members of our community to follow the instructions of our government and practice strict social distancing.

 

Part of the challenge for parents is to reconcile these instructions with the apparent contradictory message to keep our schools open. Clearly this has been a challenge for our government and has been made for the greater good of our community. Our Tasmanian government has recognised the dilemma many parents face and from today have given permission for parents to keep their children at home should they wish to isolate as a family. As I have previously stressed, we fully respect parents’ rights, as the primary educators of their children, to keep their children away from school. It is important to stress however that boys do not start holidays until April 9 and students should be completing work on SIMON or Seesaw until this time.

 

At such a critical time it is important that we do not define learning too narrowly. Currently, and if we move to full online delivery, students still have the opportunity to engage in a myriad of learning opportunities. The content of online and face to face lessons provides strong academic knowledge for our boys. The experiences boys are having in their rapidly changing and complex learning and social environments provides rich learning in areas such as resilience, empathy, problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. The experiences boys are having due to social isolation will also provide rich learning and precious memories. The joy from families returning to favourite board games, taking up new hobbies, reading books or watching classic movies together cannot be underestimated. This is a wonderful opportunity to have fun with our children and to strengthen our family connections during such a challenging time.

 

In light of our Prime Minister’s address last evening I remind you of the following protocols that are guiding our operations at this time:

• We have NO reported cases of COVID 19 within our College community or in any way connected to our College community.

• We fully respect parents’ right to decide what is the best option to ensure the wellbeing of their son. Students with compromised immune systems should seek medical advice about whether it is appropriate for them to attend school. This also applies to students who live with other children or adults with compromised immune systems. Should families decide to self-isolate, please note that students who are absent from school should continue to complete assessment tasks detailed on SIMON or Seesaw and email teachers if they have any questions or require any assistance.

• School will continue to operate but with social distancing protocols in place as well as suspension of camps, sports, excursions and major gathering of students.

• Pastoral care periods have been extended each morning to provide an opportunity for teachers to check in with students. We are aware that this is a time of great anxiety for all in our community, in particular our boys. We will be providing students with a range of strategies to assist them in managing with their current learning environment as well as preparing them for home studies and social isolation, should schools be closed for a period of time.

• College staff are ready to support the learning needs of all students using the College’s Learning Management Systems – SIMON, Seesaw (Junior School) and other learning platforms should school be closed for a period of time. Currently we are providing face to face educational delivery to students, complemented by assessment tasks available on SIMON or Seesaw. If school closes during term time, then we will move to an online learning model but we are not at this point yet.

• Information will be sent to parents soon about Term 1 assessment and reporting processes, in particular how parents can access ongoing assessment information. Please also  refer to last week’s edition of the Star - https://stvirgils.tas.edu.au/wise-nl-posts/deputy-principal-86/

• We will continue to work closely with students to reinforce personal hygiene and have committed to extra cleaning to sanitise high use surfaces.

• Staff are working closely with students to reinforce social distancing protocols in particular classroom seating plans, canteen line up procedures and lunchtime activities.

• Any members of our community who have returned from overseas after Monday March 9 or are returning from the mainland after midnight on March 20 must self-isolate for 14 days. Information about the requirements for self-isolating can be found at  https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-resources.

• Staff and students must not attend school if they have been told by Health authorities to self-isolate.

• Any staff or student with a cold or influenza who is sent home, must stay home until no longer contagious (please see table below), or if earlier than dates below, once formally cleared by a medical professional.

  Illness          When you Are First Contagious                  When You Are No Longer Contagious 

Flu              One Day before symptoms Start                   5-7 Days after you get sick with symptoms

Cold           One-Two Days before symptoms start          2 Weeks after you're exposed to the virus

We continue to keep all people affected by the virus and those who look after them foremost in our thoughts and prayers. As we move through our Lenten season let us continue to be people of faith and hope and shine God's light upon the world.

Thank you sincerely for your support and understanding during these challenging and rapidly evolving times.

God’s blessings.

Damian Messer

Principal